The Hands in Peace, began in the mid-1980s through the combined efforts of Thom Schaefer and Jaimen McMillan. These educators were searching to create a bridge from childhood play to adolescent athletics. They were inspired by the imagination given by the philosopher Rudolf Steiner that fifth grade children are “little Greeks.” Together they design this unique, non-competitive model that fosters cooperation without compromising the quality of movement of the basic five Greek disciplines. Adapting the Pentathlon events for these 10 and 11-year-old children, they built on the ancient idea of ékécheiria, the Olympic truce that dates back 778 BC. (Ékécheiria literally means “the holding of the hands.”)
They created the PACT Model: Pentathlon, Arts, Cooperation and Truce. The focus of these tournaments is on the harmony of form, the effective dynamic of the movement, and the potential to increase each child’s own individual level of performance that can be appreciated and objectively measured. The arts are added to these festivals; dance, painting and singing allowing for a sharing of both individual expression and cultural treasures.
The Waldorf School Movement has embraced this approach and incorporated it into their curriculum, as have other private institutions, state run schools and organizations around the world.
The Spacial Dynamics Institute has teamed up with the Hands in Peace Organization, and other international partners around the world, including Rotary, to bring together children whose countries are in conflict with each other. Creating a safe space and teaching movements that are beautiful and effective are the building blocks of this unique contribution for world peace.
Hands in Peace builds peace among diverse communities. The Hands in Peace Festivals adapt the ancient Greek Olympics for children and celebrate our common humanity and cultural diversity through non-competitive festivals. The festivals combine cooperative artwork and athletic events that emphasize grace and beauty and foster self-esteem. The Hands in Peace festivals create a safe space for transformative conflict resolution for children and their communities.
The Hands in Peace festivals reflect the values and hopes of the ancient Olympic truce. Hands in Peace utilizes a modern model of the ancient Pentathlon (running, jumping, wrestling, discus, and javelin) and PACT(R) educational materials (Pentathlon, Arts, Communication, and Truce) for training teachers, coaches, and judges, both developed for children by Spacial Dynamics Institute. The Hands in Peace festival is more than an athletic or educational event, it is a peace-building experience.
Our efforts center on the understanding that children who play together and learn to honor each other in their youth will continue into adulthood to work together for the good.
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Hands in Peace is a 501(C) (3) charity and donations are tax deductible as allowable by law.